Cover Art

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Content

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p. vii

Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

Abbreviations

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pp. xi-xii

French Colonial Officials (1944–59)

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pp. xiii-xiv

Maps

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pp. xv-xvi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-7

In September 1958, the French territory of Guinea claimed its independence. In a defiant “No” to France, the Guinean people, through a popular referendum, decisively rejected a constitution that would have relegated their country to junior partnership in a new French Community. ...

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One: Reformed Imperialism and the Onset of the Cold War, 1945–50

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pp. 8-44

From the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 to its defeat by Germany in 1940, France had taken its place among the world’s great powers. When World War II ended, however, France’s economy was in a shambles, its transportation system had been destroyed, and coal and food were in short supply. The country had been defeated, ...

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Two: The Break with the PCF and Dissension within the Ranks, 1950–53

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pp. 45-67

As the Cold War escalated in France and abroad, government repression against the RDA intensified. This persecution resulted in two contradictory conclusions by party members. On the one hand, the simultaneous crackdown on French communists and African RDA members seemed to reinforce their common interests ...

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Three: The Fraudulent Elections of 1954 and the Resurgence of the RDA, 1954–55

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pp. 68-96

Intense state repression in the early 1950s decimated the Guinean RDA’s local structures. The crackdown on political organizing forced the party to shift tactics, driving some activists from overt political work to trade union activity. Taking advantage of the skills, organization, and momentum of the postwar labor unions, ...

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Four: The RDA’s Rise to Power and Local Self-Government, 1956–57

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pp. 97-124

For the French government, unrest in Guinea during 1954–55 was part of a larger, more troubling issue. By the mid-1950s, the French empire was under attack on several fronts, most notably in Indochina and North Africa. In Indochina, the Viet Minh, a broad-based national liberation movement led by the communist revolutionary ...

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Five: The Renaissance of the Left: From Autonomy to Independence, 1956–58

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pp. 125-156

With the formation of the loi-cadre government in May 1957, the old guard of the Guinean RDA rapidly consolidated its power. Although territorial leaders were criticized by the Left for their increasingly accommodationist stance, the RDA government did implement reforms that both benefitted its popular base and diminished ...

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Six: Defiance and Retribution: The Referendum and Its Aftermath, 1958–60

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pp. 157-179

In 1958, in another attempt to save the French empire, the de Gaulle government proposed a new constitution that would provide the basis for the Fifth Republic. French citizens throughout the empire were to vote for or against the constitution in a referendum on September 28. In the weeks and months prior ...

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Conclusion and Postscript

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pp. 180-186

For the three centuries preceding World War II, France had assumed its position among the world’s great powers. At the war’s end, however, France, wrecked and humiliated, was a mere shadow of its former self. Only its empire, unrivaled by none but Britain’s, could salvage its great power status. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 187-190

The origin of this book lies in the word “No”—Guinea’s “No” to the 1958 French constitution and my editor’s “No” to a 965-page manuscript. In the empire-wide referendum of September 1958, Guinea alone rejected the constitution and claimed immediate independence instead. Intrigued by Guinea’s unique stance ...

Notes

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pp. 191-282

Bibliography

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pp. 283-292

Index

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pp. 293-310